The Customer Perspective: How Cascades and SAP prioritize supply chain sustainability
Business Chief sits down with Xavier Duprat, Director of Logistics and Production Planning at Cascades, to learn how the business is putting sustainability at the forefront of its operations.
Sustainability is quickly shifting from an idealistic preference to a mission-critical change in operations. Beyond reduced waste and increased efficiency, sustainability has emerged as a necessary way to do business to appeal to both partners and customers.
Sustainable business practices are especially relevant in the packaging industry, historically one of the biggest contributors to supply-related waste with an estimated 30,000 tons rotting in landfills. Cascades, one of the top packaging manufacturers in North America, is on the front lines of sustainable business practices through a streamlined supply chain. To hear about their story, we sat down with Xavier Duprat, Director of Logistics and Production Planning at Cascades.
To get started, please tell us about Cascades and its core values?
Cascades produces, converts and markets packaging and tissue products that are composed mainly of recycled fibres. With 25 plants operating across Canada and the United States, we are the largest manufacturer of containerboard in Canada and the sixth-largest in North America. In line with our corporate mission to “improve the well-being of people, communities and the planet by providing sustainable and innovative solutions that create value,” and to optimize its supply chain, we realized that we needed more consistent planning processes, faster planning cycles and better user engagement in our supply chain strategy.
Why did Cascades decide to address the issue of waste, and how are you doing so?
We have evolved our business processes to address the issue of sustainability head-on, knowing that it is an industry-wide challenge. We understand that sustainable business practices, like an efficient supply chain, are not only good for the planet but are also good for business.
What sustainability challenges has your company faced?
In order to get the business results we wanted, we knew that we had to make some changes. Working alongside supply chain leaders such as SAP, we determined that enabling fact-based decision making by increasing end-to-end supply chain visibility and providing access to information from one place was something that we needed to address. There was no relationship between sales and operations and strategy and tactical operations, which was also causing issues. We knew that we needed to make some changes in order to facilitate faster planning cycles and consistent processes for sales and operations planning, while improving collaboration and user engagement across functions.
What SAP technologies are you using to help with the project and what impact is the project having on the rest of the business?
We introduced the SAP Integrated Business Planning solution to provide full support for monthly and weekly planning processes and to enable easy collaboration and quick resolution of issues across functions. The enhanced data and forecasting help our company make smarter decisions. With our employees and sales teams able to focus on adding value, we were able to be more agile and responsive to our customers’ needs, allowing us to continue to deliver the innovative products that our customers have come to rely on. With SAP, we now have a comprehensive and transparent overview of our supply chain, helping us to be highly responsive to customer needs.
In the end, why did you select SAP and how is its technology helping with efficiency?
Implementing SAP Integrated Business Planning has helped us establish long-term partnerships with our most strategic customers. These partnerships enable us to support our growth and sustainability goals with our strong focus on the supply chain. Since choosing SAP, we have seen value-driven results, including:
· Improved decision-making with the aid of more-accurate data and forecasts (up to 80% better forecasting accuracy
· 90% Less time needed for data collection
· Reduced costs, due to increased visibility and improved collaboration
· Improved planning security supporting sales to new markets
· Greater efficiency with maximized production capacity and faster access to relevant information for both internal and external users
· Enhanced ability of employees and salespeople to focus on value-added tasks such as customer service
What trends are you seeing within the packaging industry and how are you adapting to them?
The containerboard industry is increasingly moving towards a “buyer’s market,” as more capacity and foreign investments are shifting the equilibrium of demand and supply in this direction. In the past, it might have been somewhat acceptable to operate and service customers with a certain amount of backlog within a “weekly” window, but I don’t think that will be the case in the coming months and years because of this new reality. Customers are becoming more demanding - and rightfully so. In response, organizations need to shift their mindset to service the customer in a timely manner, focusing more rigorously on cost control, working capital and “just-in-time inventory” best practices.
Where do you see Cascades going in the next five years?
We need to have a clear understanding of our global supply chain and master new processes in order to deliver and exceed customer expectations. True customer-centricity will hinge on on-time delivery as a critical differentiator, and in turn, help organizations thrive in this new environment over the next five years.
G7 Summit guide: What it is and what leaders hope to achieve
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll have seen the term ‘G7’ plastered all over the Internet this week. We’re going to give you the skinny on exactly what the G7 is and what its purpose on this planet is ─ and whether it’s a good or a bad collaboration.
Who are the G7?
The Group of Seven, or ‘G7’, may sound like a collective of pirate lords from a certain Disney smash-hit, but in reality, it’s a group of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies ─ the powerhouses of the world, if you like.
The merry band comprises:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Historically, Russia was a member of the then-called ‘G8’ but found itself excluded after their ever-so-slightly illegal takeover of Crimea back in 2014.
Since 1977, the European Union has also been involved in some capacity with the G7 Summit. The Union is not recognised as an official member, but gradually, as with all Europe-linked affairs, the Union has integrated itself into the conversation and is now included in all political discussions on the annual summit agenda.
When was the ‘G’ formed?
Back in 1975, when the world was reeling from its very first oil shock and the subsequent financial fallout that came with it, the heads of state and government from six of the leading industrial countries had a face-to-face meeting at the Chateau de Rambouillet to discuss the global economy, its trajectory, and what they could do to address the economic turmoil that reared its ugly head throughout the 70s.
Why does the G7 exist?
At this very first summit ─ the ‘G6’ summit ─, the leaders adopted a 15-point communiqué, the Declaration of Rambouillet, and agreed to continuously meet once a year moving forward to address the problems of the day, with a rotating Presidency. One year later, Canada was welcomed into the fold, and the ‘G6’ became seven and has remained so ever since ─ Russia’s inclusion and exclusion not counted.
The group, as previously mentioned, was born in the looming shadow of a financial crisis, but its purpose is more significant than just economics. When leaders from the group meet, they discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including injustice around the world, geopolitical matters, security, and sustainability.
It’s worth noting that, while the G7 may be made up of mighty nations, the bloc is an informal one. So, although it is considered an important annual event, declarations made during the summit are not legally binding. That said, they are still very influential and worth taking note of because it indicates the ambitions and outlines the initiatives of these particularly prominent leading nations.
Where is the 2021 G7 summit?
This year, the summit will be held in the United Kingdom deep in the southwest of England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosting his contemporaries in the quaint Cornish resort of Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall.
What will be discussed this year?
After almost two years of remote communication, this will be the first in-person G7 summit since the novel Coronavirus first took hold of the globe, and Britain wants “leaders to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener, and more prosperous.”
The three-day summit, running from Friday to Sunday, will see the seven leaders discussing a whole host of shared challenges, ranging from the pandemic and vaccine development and distribution to the ongoing global fight against climate change through the implementation of sustainable norms and values.
According to the UK government, the attendees will also be taking a look at “ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change, and scientific discovery.”